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Copyright (c) 2005 The American Society of International Law
American Journal of International Law

AGORA: ICJ ADVISORY OPINION ON CONSTRUCTION OF A WALL IN THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY: EDITORS' INTRODUCTION

January, 2005

99 A.J.I.L. 1

Author

By Lori Fisler Damrosch and Bernard H. Oxman *

Excerpt

Only rarely does an international judicial opinion attract attention on the front pages of newspapers around the world, and spur activism -- or condemnation -- from diverse segments of global civil society. The advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 1 is such a case. As the Court recognized in addressing the question put to it by the United Nations General Assembly, the choice of the term "wall" to designate the subject matter of the proceeding already opens up an area of debate, since not all of the contested structure is a wall in the physical sense. 2 The Court chose to follow the lead of the General Assembly on this terminological question, as well as on other matters. By a 14-1 margin, the Court found the construction of the wall in the occupied Palestinian territory to be contrary to international law and declared that Israel is under an obligation to cease its construction and dismantle it forthwith.

The fact that all five paragraphs of the dispositif elicited support from at least thirteen judges (fourteen judges on three dispositive paragraphs and all fifteen on the Court's jurisdiction to decide the request) would appear to indicate a high coherence of view on the main points addressed. Yet this broad support came at the price of a lowest-common-denominator approach to the reasoning of the opinion: on many of the key issues, the Court offered only a few terse ...
 
 
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